Who are your competitors? How do they conduct their business, and why do people decide to work with them? How do they present themselves online and off, and how are they perceived? And perhaps most importantly – what do they offer that you don’t, and vice versa?
Strong competitive research can help you identify industry trends, understand your market, and determine how your services and expertise stack up against those who work within the same specialized insurance area. With a solid understanding of your competitors, you can develop a strategy to set yourself apart in the market and help your business thrive.
Here are five steps to doing your own competitive research.
1. Find Your Competitors
When you do your research, you’ll find you have two types of competitors: direct and indirect.
Your direct competitors are the ones who work with the same people you want to work with. They specialize in the same type of insurance and work primarily with the same types of agents. Some wholesale competitors may specialize in a range of areas, some of which overlap with yours.
Indirect competitors are those whose work doesn’t line up exactly. For instance, they may work in a different but related area of insurance, or work with different types of agents or risks. Their audience, specialization, or service may be slightly different.
While your indirect competitors may not be as relevant as your direct competitors, they can help you identify new market opportunities for your own business (and gaps in the market you could potentially fill).
2. Assess Their Online Marketing
Once you’ve found your main competitors, take a look at their online presence – including websites, social media, blogs, newsletters, news articles, white papers, and more.
Assess their website. Does it look polished and professional? Can you clearly understand what they do and specialize in? Is it up-to-date and is their marketing copy high-quality? What topics do they blog about and post on social media, and what gets the most interaction?
Try to determine how they present themselves, what their selling point is, and what things you offer that they do not. This will give you a sense of where there’s an opportunity to differentiate yourself from them.
3. Sign-Up For Their Offerings
Dig into your research more by signing up for your competitors’ marketing lists. Get their newsletter, download their white paper, read their blog and watch their videos. Follow them on social media. Assess what topics they continually write about and what seems to get the most traction.
4. Find Out What Their Customers Are Saying
How does the audience react to your competitor’s messaging? Take a look at their online reviews, comments on social media posts and blog articles, and more.
What is your competition doing with regard to customer service? Are they customer-focused? How do they respond to criticism?
Both positive and negative interactions can be very informative. Negative reviews in particular can help you identify opportunities where the audience wants a certain service or experience that your competitor is not providing. Perhaps you can.
5. Identify Market Gaps
Once you’ve assessed your competitor’s online presence, marketing messaging and positioning, social media following, and interactions with customers and prospects, you can assess how your business stacks up compared to theirs.
What are the pros and cons of working with you and your competitor? What does your competitor specialize in—and what do they leave out? What do they do really well, and where are they leaving their market under-served?
Are there any gaps in the market that your competitors aren’t covering—and that you can step into? Are there any things your competitors do well that you need to improve on? What about areas where your competitors aren’t meeting customer needs? Again, this is an opportunity for you to step into the gap.
A thorough competitive analysis can help you determine how to position your own wholesale insurance agency to stand out from your competition—and fill a market need. Follow these steps, and you should have a strong understanding of what your competitors do, and where the strongest opportunities are.
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